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Live at Heaven, London, March 2011
|Origin||United Kingdom, United States|
|Genres||Indie rock, garage rock, blues rock, lo-fi|
Rough Trade Records
Dim Mak Records (former)
|Associated acts||The Raconteurs, Blyth Power, Scarfo, Discount, The Dead Weather|
|Members||Alison "VV" Mosshart
Jamie "Hotel" Hince
The Kills are an indie rock band formed by American singer Alison Mosshart ("VV") and English guitarist Jamie Hince ("Hotel"). They are signed to Domino records and their first four albums, Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, Midnight Boom, and Blood Pressures all reached the UK album chart. Ash & Ice, their fifth and most recent studio album was released on June 3, 2016 and reached the UK Top 20 album chart.
Both Mosshart and Hince played in other bands before they formed The Kills in 2001. Mosshart was previously the vocalist of Floridian punk rock band Discount, while Hince featured in the British rock bands Fiji, Scarfo and Blyth Power. Mosshart encountered Hince when her band was touring England where "he was staying in the flat upstairs from where I was staying" in London. Mosshart insisted on forming a band with Hince and "really persisted, and eventually we started writing and he encouraged me". Hince supplied her with a four-track tape recorder and insisted she write music as well as lyrics while on tour with her band. The two continued to exchange music ideas by sending each other tapes. Discount disbanded in 2000, and Mosshart moved to London in the same year. Before settling on a name, Mosshart and Hince performed as "VV" and "Hotel", respectively, Hince explaining that they "named each other off the top of our heads as a stupid romantic ode to the pop art scene". The duo opted for The Kills as it "sounded like a band that could exist in any decade".
Using the ideas on the tapes, Mosshart and Hince began to write minimalist songs with the aid of a drum machine. In 2001 they showcased their new songs on a demo tape; however, the pair shunned approaches from major record labels. Recording as VV and Hotel, they contributed the song "Restaurant Blouse" to the compilation If the Twenty-First Century Did Not Exist, It Would Be Necessary to Invent It. Shortly after this they recorded their debut release, the Black Rooster EP, which saw release on British indie label Domino Records and was picked up for distribution by Dim Mak Records in the United States.
It was lo-fi in both musical and aesthetic terms. The record sleeve featured photos of Mosshart and Hince taken in a photo booth rather than professional photography. Musically, the record was a sparse, lo-fi garage rock/blues hybrid. Though the band cites Captain Beefheart, PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, The Velvet Underground, The Fall, Patti Smith, Suicide and Royal Trux as immediate influences, the music press has largely compared them to The White Stripes.
Keep on Your Mean Side
Following international touring, they entered Toe Rag Studios, where the White Stripes had recorded their album Elephant, to record their debut album Keep on Your Mean Side, mostly on 8-track, in just 2 weeks. Distributed in the US and UK by Rough Trade Records, the album was similar in style to the EP, veering from the Velvets-esque stomp of "Wait" to the noisy, dirty garage punk blues of "Fuck the People" and dark psychedelia of "Kissy Kissy". The record was well received by the music press, though the White Stripes comparisons would not go away.
Maintaining an anti-careerist, anti-music industry attitude, the band rarely granted interviews. Instead, they got the music press to come to them with their live shows (which also included the drum machine). Mosshart chain-smoked while singing, rarely speaking to the audience; at a New York City show following the ban on public smoking, Mosshart went on stage with three bottles of water, lit up a cigarette and proceeded to smoke constantly from the first song to the last note of the set. In 2004 Mosshard and Hince bought a house together in Dalston.
In 2005, "Monkey 23" was used in "De battre mon cœur s'est arrêté", the film by Jacques Audiard. It played over the closing credits. It was also featured in season three of Peaky Blinders (TV series).
In 2006, "Wait" was used in Children of Men, the film by Alfonso Cuarón. It was played on Radio Avalon and described as "a blast from the past all the way back to 2003, that beautiful time when people refused to accept the future is just around the corner".
Their second album, No Wow, was released by Domino Records on February 21, 2005. Featuring an artier, less "guitar rock" sound, the record embraced post punk influences and sounded even more stripped down than Keep on Your Mean Side. Originally written to be performed on a Moog, the band was forced to change directions and record it primarily using a guitar after Hince's Moog broke and couldn't be repaired before entering the studio. A 40-minute DVD documentary was included with a limited number of copies and features interview, performance and on the road footage shot on tour.
Midnight Boom was released in March 2008.
Its music was used throughout many American TV shows, including 90210. A big selection of songs from the album were featured in the hit television series Gossip Girl, and also, their track "Sour Cherry" was featured as the soundbed for Season Two's official trailer. "Sour Cherry" was also featured in the Footloose trailer, as well as in the 2008 rom-com The House Bunny.
The album also picked up new mainstream success for the band with various TV performances in the UK; appearing on Later With Jools Holland, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, T4, The Album Chart Show, Sound, Live From Abbey Road, and From The Basement.
On October 21, 2008, "Cheap and Cheerful" was used on the show House during the opening scene of the episode "Lucky Thirteen". "Cheap and Cheerful" can also be heard on the NHL 09 soundtrack. It was later used in the Fendi's TV commercial for the "Fan di Fendi" perfume (2010). "U.R.A. Fever" was played during a love scene in the 2010 movie The Losers. Only the chorus of the song is played. "U.R.A. Fever" was heard in the 2010 film Welcome to the Rileys, as well as appearing on its soundtrack. It is also heard on the 2011 movie Catch .44 (partially) and the 2012 movie Detention. The bonus song "Night Train" appeared in the 2009 remake of the film Friday The 13th.
On September 11, 2009, it was announced on the band's MySpace page that they had begun work on their fourth studio album though no release date had been set.
The Kills' fourth studio album, Blood Pressures, was released in April 2011. A video for the first single from Blood Pressures, "Satellite", was released on February 9, 2011, followed By Future Starts Slow, Baby Says, The Last Goodbye, and Wild Charms on September 2012. "Future Starts Slow" was also used in a promotion for the episode "The Wait Is Almost Over" of hit TV series True Blood (season 4). The song from the same album "Damned If She Do" was also used in the promotion of The Vampire Diaries third season, and has received positive reviews from the fans. "The Last Goodbye" was used in the 2012 film Just Like A Woman, starring Sienna Miller.
"Future Starts Slow" appears in the trailer for the 2012 action thriller film Contraband, a March 2012 episode of the Vampire Diaries, in a promotion and, beginning with the second episode, was used as the theme music for the 2012 TV series Political Animals (miniseries), and was used towards the end of episode 16, season 2 of Person of Interest.
Ash & Ice
Paris Spleen: The Kills Live at L'Olympia, the film of their show from November 2011 was released on 20 September 2013 in partnership with the French clothing company Equipment.
The Kills were set to go on a small American tour with Queens of the Stone Age in December 2013. In the same year, Hince suffered an injury on his left hand when a car door closed on it. He lost the use of his middle finger and had to have a number of operations. This resulted in change in playing style and equipment.
Shortly after the announcement of the shows, the band's record label, Domino Records confirmed that the duo are working on their next album. In May 2014, Mosshart said that they were looking for a new sound and that this new album will be completely different from the others. She noted that "You never know what's going to happen with a record when you're writing. It could be done all of a sudden in two months, or it could take another year. You get on these tangents, and you find new directions. You kind of follow the scent wherever it's taking you. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it's fast as hell."
The Kills are part of the line-up for Coachella 2016. The Kills fifth studio album, Ash & Ice, was released on 3 June 2016. A new single titled "Doing It to Death" was released in March 2016. The duo embarked on a lengthy world tour, but were forced to cancel European festival dates after Mosshart suffered with pneumonia.
- Keep on Your Mean Side (2003)
- No Wow (2005)
- Midnight Boom (2008)
- Blood Pressures (2011)
- Ash & Ice (2016)
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